The Kama Sutra, an ancient Sanskrit text, is often understood to be a sex manual or compilation of sexual positions and techniques. In fact, it is a holistic guide to pleasure, relationships, and sensual enjoyment. If you’re curious about the Kama Sutra, and would like to incorporate more mindfulness into your sex life, exploring some of the Kama Sutra positions can be a good place to start.
What is the Kama Sutra?
According to the Indian Journal of Gender Studies, the Kama Sutra likely originated sometime between the 2nd and 4th century in Northern India. It is often attributed to the philosopher Vãtsyãyana Mallanga, though it was likely written by multiple authors and compiled over time. While the book contains extensive descriptions of sexual intercourse, the bulk of the text is actually centered on courtship, social life, home keeping, marriage, adultery, and more.
Because Kama Sutra positions emphasize mutual pleasure and connection, many people associate it with Tantric sex, a series of practices that can enhance mindfulness and intimacy. Tantra is a spiritual system with roots in Hindu and Buddhist traditions, and it challenges distinctions between the sacred and profane. It includes (among many other subjects) deep explorations of sexuality and sensual enjoyment. The Kama Sutra is a specific text that focuses more on the social and practical aspects of love, sex, and desire. Both of these systems emphasize mindfulness and connection between partners.
How many positions are in the Kama Sutra?
There are 64 positions described in the Kama Sutra, with each meant to increase pleasure and enjoyment for both partners. While the Kama Sutra is famous for the athleticism and flexibility required by many of its positions, incorporating Kama Sutra positions into your sex life doesn’t have to be physically demanding. Exploring new or unfamiliar positions and techniques can bring you closer to a partner by shaking up your routine and increasing intentionality and mindfulness.
5 Kama Sutra positions to try.
1. Tripadam (“Tripod”)
For those who like — or are curious about — sex standing up, this is a vertical position that can be done in a variety of settings. In this position, partners face each other, with the person being penetrated lifting one leg to wrap around their partner’s waist, forming a tripod. This can be a great position for those who experience discomfort with deep penetration, as it only allows for shallow thrusts. Especially if you want to explore sex outdoors or in another place that requires discretion, tripadam can allow you to enjoy a sweet, sensuous quickie with plenty of eye contact.
Note: this position works best for people of similar height.
2. Virsha (“Reverse Cowgirl/boy”)
This position has the penetrating partner lying on their back, while the person being penetrated sits on top, facing away. This is an ideal position if you’re interested in incorporating anal play, as it gives full access to the anus of the person on top, allowing for stimulation with hands, a toy, or a butt plug.
Note: Some people find this position uncomfortable due to the natural curvature of many penises. You can try rocking back and forth to change the angle, or place pillows or folded towels under your knees for extra support.
3. Piditaka (“The Cradle”)
This is an accessible position that can be easily modified to increase comfort. The penetrating partner kneels, while the person being penetrated draws their knees up to their chest, scoots their butt onto their partner’s thighs, and places their feet on their partner’s chest or over their shoulders. This position can promote deep vulnerability and connection, as it allows for plenty of eye contact, and both partners have their hands free to stroke one another. For those who enjoy the erotic potential of feet, this is a position that allows the penetrating partner to rub, kiss, and worship these sensitive body parts.
Note: Placing pillows under your hips can ease lower back discomfort and make this position more accessible for those with disabilities or injuries.
4. Janukurpara (“The Lift”)
This position requires the penetrating partner to have lots of arm strength — but it can be incredibly rewarding! The penetrating person stands and lifts their partner, gripping under their butt to support them. Because it can be somewhat strenuous, it requires deep communication to master. Try synchronizing your breathing and slowing things down to maximize pleasure in this position.
Note: If you’d like to enjoy some of the benefits of this face-to-face position — deep eye-gazing, kissing, whispering to one another — but aren’t able to lift or be lifted, you can modify it so one partner sits on a counter or high table.
5. Padmasana (“Lotus”)
This is an extremely intimate position that allows for sustained eye contact and deep, synchronized breathing. The penetrating partner sits with legs crossed (preferably on a soft surface), while the person being penetrated straddles their lap and wraps their legs around their back.
Note: This position allows for deep penetration and grinding, which can be particularly pleasurable for people with clits.
What Does The Kama Sutra Tell Us About Sex?
The Kama Sutra approaches sex in a spirit of playfulness and joy, rather than focusing on strict rules or social norms. It emphasizes the fact that sex should be about pleasure—not just procreation. It tells us that the enjoyment of both partners is of equal importance and that desire is most intense and gratifying when it is mutual.
The bottom line
Using the Kama Sutra as a guide for your sexual explorations can help you to connect more deeply to your partner and serve as a jumping-off point for a deeper exploration of sensuality. Incorporating some of the positions described in this ancient text can help you to expand your repertoire, as well as heightening your mindfulness around sexual expression and helping you to find new ways to connect to your partner.